Tuesday January 22, 2013

Vermont senator withdraws bill to
ban assault weapons

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The majority leaders of the Vermont state Senate says he’s withdrawing a bill that would have reinstated in Vermont a now-expired federal assault weapons ban.

Democratic Sen. Philip Baruth, of Chittenden County, says there’s not enough support among his colleagues and there’s mounting opposition from outside the Statehouse.

Baruth’s bill also would have capped the number of rounds in a gun’s magazine to five.

Baruth sent a statement to his colleagues Sunday saying he would abandon the legislation.

Vermont lawmakers
to get revenue forecast, hear budget

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The state of Vermont’s financial picture may begin to clarify by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, the Emergency Board -- a panel made up of the four legislative money committee chairs and Gov. Peter Shumlin, is to hear a report from two economists on their forecasts for how much money the state is likely to take in during the coming year.

On Thursday, Shumlin goes before lawmakers to outline his spending priorities for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Some Shumlin spending moves already have come in for criticism, including his push to take $17 million from a program that gives big tax refunds to low-income people and use the money to increase child care subsidies.

Vt. lawmakers to hear about gasoline prices

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont lawmakers are going to be holding hearings on the price of gasoline in the state.

On Tuesday afternoon the chairs of the House Transportation, Commerce, and Judiciary committees have scheduled a joint meeting from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

On Tuesday evening the committees will hold a public hearing on the same topic from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Colchester High School on the same subject.

Members of the public interested in testifying about gasoline pricing in the state may sign up 30 minutes prior to the start of the evening hearing.

N.H. bill would prevent drops in school aid

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Senate is considering a bill to delay full implementation of a school aid law to prevent communities from getting less money this year.

Under a school aid law passed two years ago, communities were to see little change in aid levels over the first two years. Some communities stand to get less money this year and a group of lawmakers wants them to get the same aid they had been getting for one more year.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday afternoon.

N.H. Air Guard unit recognized for service

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Refueling Wing is being recognized for outstanding service.

The state’s two United States senators say the unit based at the Pease Air National Guard base in Portsmouth has been selected to receive the U.S. Air Force’s Outstanding Unit Award.

The award is granted every year to exceptional units.

The 157th Air Refueling Wing has received the award 10 times.

Pease Air National Guard Base is one of five bases being considered to house a new line of air refueling tankers, known as the KC-46A, which are still in production.

If Pease is chosen, it is expected it would receive the first of the new airplanes in 2018.

N.H. Senate considering tax credit bill

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Senate is considering a bipartisan bill to double a business tax credit for research and development.

The bill also would make permanent the temporary credit due to expire on July 1, 2015. The state currently caps the total credits allowed at $1 million. This bill would raise the cap to $2 million per fiscal year.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan supports the increase. State Sen. Bob Odell, a Republican from Lempster, is the prime sponsor. The bill has many co-sponsors of both parties.

The Senate holds a hearing on the bill Tuesday morning.

The House holds a hearing Wednesday on a bill to make the $1 million cap permanent.

LL Bean distributes grants to nonprofits

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) -- Maine’s L.L. Bean is distributing $1.5 million in community grants that were approved by the board for distribution before the company’s fiscal year ends next month.

The catalog retailer says gifts ranging from $500 to $25,000 are being dispersed to more than 200 non-profit organizations. That’s above and beyond a $2.5 million donation to get kids interested in the outdoors and another $1 million given to the National Parks Foundation this year.

Over the last 10 years, the Freeport-based company has donated nearly $30 million to non-profit organizations.

This year’s recipients include the Appalachian Mountain Club, Nature Conservancy, Maine Audubon, Maine Island Trails Association, Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited. The company is also supporting the Island Explorer propane bus system in Acadia National Park.

New England shrimp season begins this week

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- New England’s shrimp-fishing season gets under way this week.

The start of the season begins Wednesday, but isn’t expected to last long with a quota of only 1.4 million pounds. That’s about one-fourth last year’s catch of 5.3 million pounds.

Net fishermen have a quota of about 1.2 million pounds and can fish only two days a week.

Trap fishermen have a quota of about 200,000 pounds. Their season begins Feb. 5.

Regulators last month set a short season with a low quota after scientists warned that the Gulf of Maine shrimp population is in poor shape due to environmental conditions.

Shrimp fishing provides a small but important winter fishery. Maine fishermen catch about 90 percent of the harvest, with New Hampshire and Massachusetts fishermen accounting for the rest.

Gas prices drop another 2 cents in Mass.

BOSTON (AP) -- Gas prices are down again in Massachusetts this week.

AAA Southern New England reports Monday that self-serve, regular dropped two cents to an average of $3.41 per gallon in the past week, after falling two cents the week before.

Despite dropping four cents over the last two weeks, Massachusetts prices are up one cent per gallon over the past month.

The Massachusetts price is 11 cents higher than the national average and penny lower than at the same time last year.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for a low of $3.25 per gallon and a high of $3.65.